LACONIA — A December trial has been set for a woman charged with not wearing a top at the Gilford Town Beach on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend.
Heidi Lilley, 54, is scheduled to stand trial in Laconia circuit District Court on December 15 at 1 p.m. on the misdemeanor complaint of toplessness, which police say violates a beach ordinance (Article G number 7) that prohibits topless sunbathing for women.
Lilley, who is co-organizer of the Free the Nipple NH campaign, had spent two days topless at Weirs Beach in Laconia that weekend and said that she and other members of the movement left at 5 p.m. that Sunday when Weirs Beach was cleared so that an upcoming fireworks show could be set up.
She told the Daily Sun that when they arrived at Gilford Beach some kids yelled at them and said the beach wasn't a nudist camp but she said they ignored them. Shortly there after, she said two women approached them and asked if they realized Gilford Beach was a private beach.
Lilley said she told them she was a Gilford resident, that she paid taxes and had every right to be there. She said one of the women "got into our faces" and was "extremely verbally abusive."
Gilford Police responded and Lilley said they were "very polite and professional." She said they initially told them they could be cited for criminal trespass, however Lilley told them she lived in Gilford and produced identification to prove it.
She said the officers explained there was a Gilford Beach ordinance that prohibits topless sunbathing and then asked them to put on their shirts.
Lilley said all of them complied with the police who then asked if any of them wanted to be cited. She said three of them said "yes" but the police only wrote two summons – one for her and one for another woman. She said the officers explained to them that they violated a beach ordinance not a town ordinance.
The Free the Nipple NH campaign intends to call attention to inequalities between men and women. Lilley said the only thing her organization wants is for women to be able to go to the beach without tops, like men can.
The group took part in an earlier demonstration at Hampton Beach and announced in August that they were targeting Weirs Beach because the city of Laconia has an ordinance that exceeds state law in that it prohibits publicly exposing the female nipple.
Passed in 1998, largely because the city hosts Motorcycle Week, the ordinance also addresses people who encourage women to expose their entire breasts.
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